Richard Poynder asked:
> Is not the important distinction between disputes over
> proprietary software licences and open source licences
> that in the case of open source software it is difficult to
> prove financial loss?
I think this very clearly illustrates the difference between GPL/Open Source
code and commercial software. The idea that one would sue for financial
redress does not really belong in the open source movement.
Remember that the primary motivation for the GPL is so that people can
"liberate" or "free" their code, without having others take it and use it
against them. Defending a GPL license is more akin to suing someone for
trespassing or searching your premises without a warrant than suing someone
because they damaged your business interests.
I would assume that the copyright holder could seek financial redress for a
GPL violation, depending on the legal system. Think of it as a fine for
license infringment if you will.
The fact that most GPL related issues get settled before they ever get to
court is, to my mind, a clear indication of its social superiority. Contrast
this to commercial companies which will produce onerous and complex
licenses, and then demand fines when some poor sysadmin does not understand
all the fine print. Or those companies that sue for dubious patent
infringement, playing pot-luck with the legal system.
I believe there is a place for commercial software, and a place for GPL
software. But your article implied that GPL software is a legal minefield
without ever mentioning that commercial software contains even more
pitfalls. Personally, I felt it was biased and misrepresented the truth.
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